In 2007, at the age of 31, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus as I spent a few days in the hospital being treated for pleurisy and pericarditis. When I learned of my diagnosis, I realized I had been symptomatic for months (even years) before my hospitalization. I would get dizzy, nauseous, have lots of joint pain, hives, lip swelling, strange rashes and was generally "not feeling well".

Days before my hospitalization, I was having dinner at my neighbor's house and when I tried to stand up from the table, I couldn't lift my legs and I had a hard time walking.  When I finally made it home, I looked in the mirror and my lips swelled up.  I was so scared not knowing why this was all happening so I went online and started to type in all of my symptoms. My sister was the one that put two and two together and said "I wonder if you have Lupus?" then suggested I see my doctor and ask for an ANA blood test. She is in the medical field so I trusted her as she was well more knowledgable than I am. So I did what she suggested.
Sure enough my ANA came back positive but before the ANA came back, my doctor also put me on an antibiotic. Little did I know that the antibiotic he had given me was an antibiotic that contained Sulfa, an ingredient that my body turned out to be allergic to.  Next thing I knew I was in a lot of pain and bedridden for almost a month. I had pleurisy and pericarditis and spent a few days in the hospital.

Before all this happened, I had my life exactly where I wanted it to be. I work as a manager for a prominent law firm, a job I absolutely love. I had met a great guy who is now my husband and I had all the energy in the world to keep up with everybody and everything in my life. As I was laying in my hospital bed, I thought once I got through this week, I'd recover and life would be back to normal.  I never realized that "normal" was going to mean something completely different in the days, months and years ahead. I'm still in the learning process of figuring out what my new "normal" is...but I'm much closer now than I was when I was first diagnosed. Lupus has lead me to a path I've never experienced before. It's lead me from pain, anger, denial to hope, gratitude and love. I see things so differently now and I appreciate the little things in life so much more. The Lupus road of twists and turns may be never ending but it's a road that I was chosen to ride on. And I'm going to use that road to find ways to get back in good health. So take a walk with me while I travel down my Lupus road.
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